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2021 Gul Fireball Nationals - Runners and Riders

by Isaac Marsh 28 Sep 11:28 BST 30 September - 3 October 2021
Dave Hall and Paul Constable win the John Merricks Tiger Trophy 2021 © Tim Olin /

With the 2021 Fireball nationals just a couple of days away I think it's time we throw some names in the hat and look at who this year's contenders could be!

  • Dave Hall & Paul Constable

    This pair go way back. They may be two absolute gents on the beach; however, their results show that they have not lost any of their killer instinct over the century they have been sailing together. Unlikely to be getting rowdy in bar and certain to be pulling up a fresh set of rags, we can expect this pair to be hot out of the blocks and showing us that race winning form we have seen from them time and time again.

  • Paul 'Spanner' Cullen & Simon Forbes

    This pair have been sailing the Fireball together now for a few years and we can certainly expect them to be racing around at the front. I also wouldn't bet against them have a chance at putting in a cheeky bullet. Paul is a man great at finishing bridesmaid; his performance at the last two Laser 2000 champs back up this man's love for the second step. Si is a man that demonstrates perfectly that it's not the size of it, but how you use it, that counts. Standing only two and a half feet tall, this man can easily be confused on the bank to be the one holding the stick. However, the main challenge for this pair will be to see if the ex-Scorpion national champion and this year's runner up in Penzance, can demonstrate world class helm management to keep Spanner on semi-decent behaviour.

  • Vince 'Wally' Horey & Andy 'Shandy' Thompson

    Fresh out the back of a good Scorp nationals this pair are not to be written off. If Shandy can keep Vince on semi-decent behaviour and prevent any of the antics we all know are possible, I believe this team are going to be fast! Combine Vince's103 years of Fireball experience with Shandy's ability to polish off a barrel and still appear fresh the following morning, this boat has real potential. If nothing else, after a bad day on the water all you have to do is stand near Vince in the bar and he will not fail to do something to instantly improve your mood!

  • Matt Burge & Dan Schieber

    Matt and Dan have to be a favourite. With two Worlds and multiple European titles in this boat we know the complete package is there. Matt has also shown that he is in a winning frame of mind after what can only be described as 'smashing' the Osprey nationals with his rival Vyv.

  • Chips Howarth & Vyv Townend

    Form is temporary but class you can never loose... need I say more about this pair. With more titles between them than years I've been alive, anything other than a win will be a shock. Word on the grapevine has it that some sneaky practice has been taking place. After winning the 2019 Inlands straight out of retirement, Chips and Vyv will be in the chocolates next week. The only challenge for these two will be ensuring that Vyv can have his 10 pints and a curry.

  • Maria Stanley & Tom Darling

    To my knowledge these are new faces to the Fireball fleet and a possible unknown force to be reckoned with. Maria is an ex-RS200 national champion and Tom's background shows he can turn his hand to whatever class he steps in. Bringing the average age of the fleet down, this boat may well disrupt the apple cart.

  • David Sayce & Matt Alvarado

    Not just local legend but all-round legend, Dave has been at the front of the fleet longer than the rest of us have been sailing. This boat certainly has wisdom and local knowledge on its side and no one in the fleet would dare to underestimate what could be possible if this pair get their weekend right!

The entry for this year's nationals is looking super-hot and there are plenty more faces we can expect to see fighting it out at the front. The forecast looks booming and Hayling has a bit of a rep for some mast bending. Let's hope that this is not the fact to determine who our 2021 National Champion will be!

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